idr who said it but someone mentioned that they wondered what happened to the gz after the fall of phariah dark and i have an idea. (which is inspired by Chinese history… especially the dynasty cycle and 20th century China.)
phariah wasn’t the first ghost king, but he was the last. the secession of the throne was always passed through violence - sometimes it was by a powerful ghost, other times through the effects of a people. since ghosts have an unending existence, some reigns stretched centuries while others lasted only a few months. each reign was able to further develop the gz as a civilization, but the ghosts loyal or kin to the ruler would always receive favored treatment. sometimes the civilisations would bleed over into the real world and that’s how ancient religions were inspired (eg; zeus and odin were previous ghost kings).
phariah was a set back in terms of a lot of the growth experienced from reigns. he destroyed bureaucracies, cut back relief and aid programs, focused the military only at dissenters and left “disloyal” regions to deal with their own violence, and kept potential enemies at each other’s throats instead of his own. he promoted violence in his name as a method of propaganda and suppression and directed it at ghosts loyal to the previous ruler. the ghost zone under phariah dark was riddled with state sponsored violence, scattered/decimated opposition, and general chaos.
a small group of ghosts from the previous reign were the ones that finally defeated phariah and the fright knight. but since they were destroyed in the process, there was no entity to rally behind to form a new government, which led to regions/haunts being ruled by local lords - kinda of like the warring states period. no one ruler has been able to unite the ghost zone since the fall of phariah dark, but many have tried.
(i also just wanna add that i totally see the observers as remnants of a previous reign - one that was overtaken due to their inaction and ineffectiveness like the late tokugawa shogunate or the late qing dynasty.)